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    German Red Cabbage Recipe (Rotkohl)

    Published February 15, 2024. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This classic German Red Cabbage Recipe is braised until tender with wine, spices, sugar, and vinegar for an unbelievable vegetable side dish. You will fall in love with the taste of this amazing cabbage recipe.

    As I’ve gotten older, I try to ensure I eat as many vegetables as possible. However, I must admit that it can be tough to make them delicious, so I want to eat them. If you’re in the same boat, check out my tasty Mexican Street Corn or Roasted Asparagus.

    bowl of braised red cabbage


     

    German Red Cabbage

    Red cabbage is a classic German vegetable dish that is slowly braised with spices, vinegar, and sugar to make a full-flavored sweet and sour cabbage dish. This is an incredibly popular side item to serve alongside main proteins. It has robust flavors and is a great compliment to any main entrée.

    There are some variations with this as it relates to the spices, liquids, and jelly. You may see stock being used in place of water and you may also see juice in place of wine. In addition, you may see some recipes with no jelly being used. While all of these ingredients are classically in the German red cabbage, it’s up to the discretion of the person cooking it for what they’d like to add in.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    red cabbage ingredients
    • Cabbage – This dish requires a fresh head or pre-shredded red cabbage.
    • Apples – Sour apples such as Granny Smith or Braeburn are recommended. You can use a sweeter apple, like honey crisp if that’s all you have.
    • Onion – You can use a red, white, sweet, or yellow onion.
    • Water – Plain tap water works great.
    • Jelly – I finished off the red cabbage with currant jelly. Substitute with regular grape jelly.
    • Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is all that’s needed.  You can also substitute with light brown sugar.
    • Spices – I used a combination of bay leaves and cloves.
    • FatLard is the most traditional fat to cook everything in. Feel free to substitute with a neutral flavored oil such as avocado, or you can use ghee or clarified butter.
    • Vinegar – You can use red wine, white wine, distilled white, or cider vinegar.
    • Wine – Any dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or merlot, will work. I usually say there is no substitute for wine because it is unique, so I advise you to skip it. However, you can use grape juice in this one instance.

    How to Make German Red Cabbage

    Add the lard to a large rondeau or pot and heat over medium heat.

    lard melting in a pan

    Place in the onions, gently season with salt, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until they start to turn brown. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 10 to 12 minutes while stirring occasionally.

    caramelizing onions

    Stir in the apples over medium-high heat and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.

    cooking apples and onions

    Next, add in the cabbage, gently season with salt, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to begin breaking it down a little.

    sautéing cabbage

    Deglaze with the red wine and cook until it is mostly absorbed or only a few tablespoons remain.

    adding wine to a pot

    Add in the sugar, cloves, bay leaves, vinegar, and water and stir just until combined.

    cabbage with bay leaves

    Place on a lid and simmer over low to medium heat for 30 minutes.

    adding a lid to a pot

    Remove the cover and continue to cook until any remaining liquid is reduced to 2 to 3 tablespoons.

    cabbage cooking

    Remove the cloves any bay leaves and stir in the jelly until it is melted in.

    mixing braised cabbage with jelly

    Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

    braised German cabbage

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This is meant to be eaten within 30 minutes of making it. You can keep it warm over very low heat covered in a pan for up to 1 hour before serving. This may cause the cabbage to soften more.

    How to Store: Cover and keep the red cabbage in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This freezes well and is covered for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for one day or until thawed.

    How to Reheat: Add two tablespoons of oil or lard to a large frying pan over high heat until it smokes lightly. Place in the desired amount of fried cabbage and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until warm. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • If bacon is not an option, you can fry the cabbage in neutral-flavored oil or clarified butter.
    • Other spices you can add to the cabbage are star anise, cinnamon stick, and juniper berries.
    • Be sure to watch my Pork Schnitzel Recipe video to see how I push the cloves into an onion ring so that they are easy to fish out once the cabbage is done cooking.

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    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    German Red Cabbage Recipe (Rotkohl)

    5 from 2 votes
    This classic bold flavored German Red Cabbage Recipe is braised until tender with wine, spices, sugar, and vinegar for an unbelievable vegetable side dish.
    Servings: 6
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • ¼ cup lard
    • 1 peeled thinly sliced red onion
    • 2 cored, peeled, and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
    • 1 head cored and thinly sliced red cabbage
    • ¾ cup dry red wine
    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 4 cloves
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 tablespoons currant jelly
    • coarse salt and cracked pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Add the lard to a large rondeau or pot and heat over medium heat.
    • Place in the onions, gently season with salt, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until they start to turn brown.
    • Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 10 to 12 minutes while stirring occasionally.
    • Stir in the apples over medium-high heat and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Next, add in the cabbage, gently season with salt, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to break it down a little.
    • Deglaze with the red wine and cook until it is mostly absorbed or only a few tablespoons remain.
    • Add in the sugar, cloves, bay leaves, vinegar, and water and stir until combined.
    • Place on a lid and simmer over low to medium heat for 30 minutes.
    • Remove the cover and continue to cook until any remaining liquid is reduced to 2 to 3 tablespoons, which takes about 20 to 25 minutes.
    • Remove the cloves and bay leaves and stir in the jelly until it is melted in.
    • Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This is meant to be eaten within 30 minutes of making it. You can keep it warm over very low heat covered in a pan for up to 1 hour before serving. This may cause the cabbage to soften more.
    How to Store: Cover and keep the red cabbage in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This freezes well and is covered for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for one day or until thawed.
    How to Reheat: Add two tablespoons of oil or lard to a large frying pan over high heat until it smokes lightly. Place in the desired amount of fried cabbage and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until warm. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.
    If bacon is not an option, you can fry the cabbage in neutral-flavored oil or clarified butter.
    Other spices you can add to the cabbage are star anise, cinnamon stick, and juniper berries.
    Be sure to watch my Pork Schnitzel Recipe video to see how I push the cloves into an onion ring so that they are easy to fish out once the cabbage is done cooking.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 115kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 2gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.03gSodium: 44mgPotassium: 439mgFiber: 5gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 1671IUVitamin C: 84mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 1mg
    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: german